Living with a chronic health condition such as chronic kidney disease means making special considerations and planning for your diet and lifestyle. You may need to change your entire way of thinking when it comes to how and what you eat for a realistic meal plan, and you may even be surprised by some of the changes that you have to make. It is imperative that you make the correct dietary choices when you have kidney disease. This is because your diet often impacts your kidney health as much as or more so than all of your medications.
There are two main things to consider when putting together a diet plan for kidney disease.
The first is your coordination and cooperation with your physician and nutritionist. Every person and every health case is different, so it is very important that you discuss any of your diet and lifestyle changes with your medical professionals. You want to make sure that the changes you are making are actually going to be helpful. You might hear about the latest diet for weight loss or health, but many things that are healthy for others can be detrimental to a renal diet meal plan.
The second thing to consider is your meal plan itself. Putting together an effective meal plan can mean the difference between an easy transition and a struggle to keep to a successful diet. The biggest thing you should consider about your meal plan is whether or not it is realistic.
What does it mean to build a realistic meal plan? A realistic meal plan can mean success, and an easier way to follow your diet as recommended. An unrealistic meal plan is one that you are unlikely to be able to follow, one where slip-ups are more likely to occur, and one that may ultimately push you to give up. You can see why a realistic meal plan would be so important for kidney disease. After all, anything that can take some pressure off you and make your life easier is a good thing.
Here are a few tips for building realistic meal plans for kidney disease:
Keep It Simple
The first rule to building realistic meal plans is to keep everything as simple as possible. This means choosing simple recipes with fewer ingredients that take less time to cook. It means doing as much prep work as possible ahead of time to make each day as easy as possible. Whatever steps you can take to keep your meal plan simple are steps that you are taking to make your meal plan a success.
For example, when you bring home your food from the grocery store, you can sort and process as much as possible. Doing things like peeling and cutting vegetables in bulk when you have time and either freezing them or keeping them in a baggie in the refrigerator makes life easy when it's time to add them to a recipe. You can also put together the ingredients for your slow cooker meal in one bag and store it in the refrigerator the night before you plan to cook that meal. Then it's easy to take out and add to the crock pot and start your day off right. Small things like that make the meal preparation easier.
Write Everything Down
Lists and charts may sound a little boring or cliché, but they are going to make your meal plan work. Make lists for everything: what you are going to eat, what days you are going to eat certain meals, what ingredients you need from the grocery store. These lists will help take out all the guesswork from making a successful meal plan. Less guesswork means a more realistic meal plan.
When you shop at the grocery store from a list you spend less because you are not trying to remember what you have at home. To create a grocery list of items to purchase, you should shop in your pantry first, after choosing your recipes for the week. That way you are saving because you don't buy more than you need. Check out the bulk food section of the grocery store for staples like rice and grains that you can purchase just a cup or two of instead of a whole bag to make the meal you plan.
Making a realistic meal plan takes a bit of planning and every week you will need to review what you need and what you have in the cupboard. Choose a list of 15-20 recipes that everyone in the house likes and rotate those while trying some new items every now and then. This means that you will be able to try a new recipe on a night when you have more time (plan it that way) and on nights with less time you can plan on an oldie but goodie that will please everyone.
Account for Every Meal
When you are putting together your meal plan, make sure that you are accounting for every meal of the day and snacks. Depending on what stage of kidney disease you are in, you may need to account for fluids as well. Accounting for everything means you are less likely to forget a meal and end up scrambling for something to eat.
Knowing the nutritional values of foods and recipes that you use makes it easier to plan out meals. Planning ahead means that you look at your schedule and say, “I won't have as much time that day, I need to pick an easier or simpler meal”. This keeps you out of survival mode and searching through the cabinets or drive-thru meals that might not be the best choice. If you have others in the house, one of the benefits of planning meals ahead is that everyone can help. If they know what's for dinner that night, they can get started on it before you arrive home. Or you can have the crock pot filled and ready to go in the morning on nights when the day is running longer. Chronic kidney disease is not the only reason to make meal planning a priority. Everyone benefits from the cost savings and healthier meal choices. Letting everyone participate in meal preparation and planning encourages them to be more involved and invested in making the plan work.
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Realistic meal planning is effective meal planning, especially when it comes to treating your chronic kidney disease. Follow these tips and techniques to help build a more realistic meal plan that will work for you.
Also published on Medium.